A number of Christians, including Christian leaders, are questioning whether they should vote in the upcoming plebiscite—and even how they should vote.

In every case the uncertainty springs from respect, kindness, and love.

Love is in the Christian’s DNA.  We look towards same-sex attracted people, we sense that they’re doing it tough, and we want to love them.  And we may think, “If they really want to be able to get married, and if changing our marriage laws will bring them happiness, wouldn’t it be loving and kind to support that?”

The motivation is beautiful, the application is misguided.

God is love (1 John 4:16).  This means that God is supremely loving, and that God is the source and measure of love.  Human love and kindness exists only to the extent that it resembles God’s love.

When it comes to the plebiscite, there are two reasons why the love of God will constrain his people to the negative.

First, love for our same-sex attracted neighbours will say no.

It is not loving to forget that God teaches us that homosexual acts, like all sexual acts outside of his male-female marriage design, are sinful.  Our Father says that homosexual acts are “degrading,” “shameful,” “unnatural,”[1]This is how the New International Version (2011) translates, respectively, ἀτιμαζεσθαι (to be dishonoured, shamed), παθη ἀτιμιας  (dishonourable passion), and την παρα φυσιν (what is contrary to nature).  Definitions are taken from A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, revised and edited by Frederick Danker.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2000. and harmful (Romans 1:24-27).  Our Father says that such acts separate us from him, and un-repented they disqualify us from the Kingdom of Heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

And so Jesus calls us to repent of sin (Mark 1:15, John 5:14), a call which must include our sexual sin (Mark 7:23).  Jesus calls us to repent not in order to hurt and frustrate us, but because our sin harms us and those around us.  He loves us and wants the best for us.

When it comes to homosexual acts, love means that we will stand behind Jesus’ call to repentance.  We will agree with it, and will speak it on his behalf when the occasion demands it.

How is it loving to lead people to think that sexual sin is legitimate—which is what we necessarily communicate when we support marriage redefinition?  How is it loving to baptise a pattern of soul-destroying sin with the name of God’s good gift of marriage?

It is a terrible thing when Christian love and kindness becomes so misdirected that we wound the souls of the very people that we are trying to help.

Let us not think, in a ghastly fit of blind spiritual arrogance, that we know better than Jesus, and can love better than Jesus.

Let’s humble ourselves, and trust that he knows best, and submit to him, and love people the way he loves them, and wants us to love them.

Secondly, love for Jesus himself will say no.

Marriage is one of Jesus’ great gifts to the world.  He publicly defined and defended marriage, traced our distortion of marriage to our “hard” hearts, and warned us not to break marriages (Matthew 19:3-8).

In fact, Jesus intends marriage to be a brilliant picture of the Gospel.  Within a relationship of mutual submission, the godly husband, who sacrifices his own good for his wife, pictures to the world the self-sacrificial love of Christ.  And the godly wife, who respects and submits to her husband’s leadership, pictures the church at her best:  loving and submitting to Christ (Ephesians 5:21-33).

Surely love for Jesus means respecting his gift of marriage.  Surely love for Jesus means treasuring and protecting what is the preeminent human picture of his loving sacrifice on the cross for a sinful world.

How could taking the name of Jesus’ precious gift, and applying it to a sexually sinful relationship, be even remotely construed as an act of love and respect for Jesus?  How could taking Jesus’ preeminent picture of the Gospel, and applying it to something that he died to free us from, ever be seen as honouring his sacrifice for our sin?

To agree, by an act of misguided kindness and compassion, to change Jesus’ plan for marriage, or to tear down its essential attributes, or to obscure it by calling something “marriage” that is not marriage and is shameful in Jesus’ eyes—is at best false to his Word, and is at worst an act of pride and rebellion.

This is the act of someone who asks, “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1).  This is doing what is “right in our own eyes” (Judges 21:25).  It is not working for Jesus, it is working against him.

We are not all called to speak out in this plebiscite, but we can all vote.  In fact our government is asking us to formally express our opinion.

How can the person who loves Jesus stand silent while his gift of marriage is counterfeited, and while the name of his Gospel picture is applied to something that grieves him?  If we have an orderly and honourable opportunity to help conserve his gift, and choose to do nothing, how does this wide-eyed inaction not dishonour him?

I am not interested in “winning the plebiscite” for the sake of winning.  Political point-scoring disgusts me.  I do not think that a majority no vote will fix all of Australia’s woes and bring an end to this painful debate.  Quite frankly, the plebiscite wearies and saddens me.

Yet I want to love Christ and my neighbour.  The Gospel frees me to do this, and compels me to do this.

My love for my same-sex attracted friends and neighbours, and my love for Jesus, constrains me to vote, and to vote no.

References   [ + ]

1.This is how the New International Version (2011) translates, respectively, ἀτιμαζεσθαι (to be dishonoured, shamed), παθη ἀτιμιας  (dishonourable passion), and την παρα φυσιν (what is contrary to nature).  Definitions are taken from A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, revised and edited by Frederick Danker.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2000.